But as the head coach and vice president of player personnel struggle with the team's most important personnel decision going forward, there is one driving factor behind their D-day decision: Is there a quarterback worth the No 12 pick?
The reality is that even Spielman seemed to admit that there could be some reaches in tonight's first round of the draft by quarterback-desperate teams
"I think when you look at this draft class, there's going to be a lot of quarterbacks taken and they're going to be taken early just because of the need out there and how many teams need quarterbacks," Spielman said "We've done a very extensive study and analysis, or whatever you want to classify it, and every one of these guys has a strength and everyone has a weakness We're identifying what those strengths are and what those weaknesses are and, specifically if any of these guys, their weaknesses can get corrected Or is it an off-field weakness? Or is it a leadership weakness? Or is it on the field?"
Frazier continues to reference the success of recent first-round selections that have had immediate success – from Joe Flacco in Baltimore to Matt Ryan in Atlanta to Mark Sanchez with the New York Jets Frazier wants to start the process of building his team with a quarterback he can rely on for the next decade and he would prefer to have one he can plug-and-play right away However, two factors could prevent that from happening: the NFL readiness of the current quarterback prospects and the still-uncertain workout rules for players in the coming weeks and months with a tenuous labor situation, despite Wednesday's ruling to lift the lockout
"Whoever you draft this year may not have the OTAs, may not have the minicamps, so it's really hard to predict whether or not that guy would be ready to play on Day One, just because of the uncertainty of this offseason So it's hard to project," Frazier said
That would be true for any rookie this year, but quarterback brings unique requirements to the job that would make it even more difficult to make a quick, positive impact if players are prevented from practicing in the weeks after they were drafted, Frazier admitted
Of the top seven quarterbacks expected to be drafted in the top 45 picks – Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, Ryan Mallett, Andy Dalton, Christian Ponder and Colin Kaepernick – everyone one of them has questions marks Is Newton going to be able to transition his athletic style of play and lack of reading defenses into the NFL? Is Gabbert going to be able to transition his shotgunning, quick-strike skills to going under center and making multiple reads? Can Locker become a more accurate pocket passer? Will Mallett's lack of mobility, perceived cocky attitude and off-field issues hinder him from becoming a professional leader? Does Dalton have the height and arm strength to succeed at the next level? Can Ponder's body hold up after several injuries at Florida State? How long will it take Kaepernick's great combination of skills to translate from Nevada's pistol offense to the NFL's complex offenses?
"Everybody has different issues We've been through that and been through it and been through it and what we feel comfortable with I would say there are, in this class particularly, I don't know if there is a Sam Bradford per se But even he had questions," Spielman said "The things people questioned him about was he had durability issues But we've analyzed all this and went through each guy's strength and each guy's weakness and everybody had an opportunity to speak their mind on these guys and I think we feel very confident with how we have these guys stacked "
Perhaps NFL Network analayst Mike Mayock put it best with the quarterback Class of 2011: "The problem this year is there's not one quarterback I can pound the table for and tell you he's Sam Bradford or Matt Ryan," Mayock said "If you're familiar with my work, every year there has been a guy where I've pounded the table This year there are four guys with what I call first-round talent, none of whom I would pound the table for The two that I think are the cleanest, Gabbert and Newton, are going to be off the board So Minnesota sits in an awkward place at 12 "
Awkward, and perhaps in prime position to trade down or worry about other positions with their first pick
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